Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (4/5)

Dead Letters is another Book of the Month*  pick that was a quick and fun read. Mysterious and thrilling, the book revolves around the disappearance of the protagonist’s twin sister. Having run away from her dysfunctional family to Paris, Ava Antipova, is forced back to her family vineyard in New York, when she learns of her twin’s passing. The mysterious circumstances surrounding her death leads Ava to believe her sister may still be alive, so when an email shows up from her presumed dead sister, Ava is drawn into a scavenger hunt that will ultimately reveal her sister’s fate.

Pretentious and unlikable, the characters in this book aren’t going to win you over with redeeming qualities. If you need to like characters in a book, you probably won’t find yourself enjoying the excruciating apathy of the protagonist, who runs away from her problems at every opportunity. Having never been forced to face up to her life or the dysfunction in her family, Ava, lacks the coping skills necessary to own up to her mistakes or forgive the mistakes of others. In the end, she represents both the protagonist and the antagonist of this story.

You may be asking yourself why, if everyone is so miserable, I gave this book a 4 out of 5 rating. The answer, to enjoy and appreciate a book, I don’t need to like the characters. The writing is well done and the plot, although frustrating in the end, is well thought out and well developed. It is the kind of book that has enough depth and complexity that it may need to be read more than once in order to absorb all the information and nuance. Although not an uplifting book, the book is written by a woman, with a woman’s point of view. The characters portray their emotions through complex mechanisms, which really highlight the nature of unhealthy female relationships.

Having gone to a public middle school and high school, I have had my share of dysfunctional relationships with women. The female socialization process encourages competition, specifically emphasizing that worth, success and attractiveness are all part of a zero sum game. Women are taught that another woman’s success or beauty limits their own opportunities for success and attractiveness. This creates a toxic environment that limits the ability of women to successfully work together toward a common goal. It is an environment in which women cannot be happy for the success of another woman, let alone encourage and help their peers reach success. This book shows how such socialization can break even the closest bond between siblings.


*This is my referral link, it gives me a free book and you get your first month for 9.99

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